Ship with Amazon wood tracked to Europe, blocked by activists (updated)

Feature story - March 17, 2008
We've tracked a shipment of suspect wood from the Amazon to France on board the cargo ship Galina III. Some hours ago our activists climbed on the ship. Once our activists were onboard, the ship missed its chance to go into port. Its next chance is at dawn with the new tide, but for now it is headed back out to sea with our activists occupying its cranes.

Greenpeace activists board a cargo ship entering the port of Caen, France. The ship is loaded with timber sourced from companies with links to illegal logging operations in the Amazon.

Our team in Brazil, and here in Europe, put months of surveillance and research into the companies behind this shipment who engage in illegal logging and ancient forest destruction.  Now we're calling them out in public, to get tougher laws against people like them. Sixty to eighty percent of timber from the Amazon is illegally logged - with Europe a major buyer.  

Victory update (7pm local time, 18 March): 

We're happy to say that the Frenchgovernment has promised to support new European Union wide laws regulatingtimber imports. After a 24-hour occupation, our activists have left the ship'scranes and ended the action.

Action details

Two fast boats from our ship, the Arctic Sunrise, pulled up to the 16,000 tonne Galina roughly five kilometres (3 miles) from port. Five activists managed to clamber onboard before the cargo ship's crew threw the ladder off. After reassuring the Galina's crew about their peaceful intentions, some of the activists occupied the ship's cranes.

The activists onboard the Galina are from the UK, Germany, Italy and Chile. The temperature at sea is about four degrees Celsius (39° F).

Illegal logging exposed

According to Greenpeace Amazon campaigner, Marcelo Marquesini:

Illegal logging is fuelling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and this in turn is driving global climate change, harming biodiversity and communities.

What is worse is that the EU is complicit in this destruction being the world's leading importer of Brazilian Amazonian timber. Because the EU doesn't verify that timber comes from legal sources, the door is left wide open for rogue companies to flood the EU market with illegal timber.

Today's action came on the back of a new Greenpeace report, 'Future for Forests', uncovering the illegal timber trade from the Amazon into Europe.

As well as destroying large areas of tropical forest, illegal logging encourages land grabbing by farmers and speculators, and fuels corruption and violence. As the loggers move on in their search for high value timber, they leave behind a network of roads opening up previously inaccessible parts of the rainforest. Farmers and land grabbers move in to take advantage - burning the remaining trees to clear the land.

Amazon and climate change

It's not just the Amazon forest at stake; it's also our shared climate. Tropical deforestation is responsible for about one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the world's entire transport sector. Last month, the Brazilian government admitted that the rate of deforestation is speeding up rather than slowing down.

Deforestation is the main source of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions, making it the most important contributing factor to the country's position as the world's fourth-largest climate polluter.

In depth

In depth reading: Our new report, "A Future for Forests", about the Amazon, deforestation and the European Union.

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